Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC. Released 16th October 2017.
An American Cage by Ted Galdi
Opening sentence: “As inmates of Thurgood L. Crick prison funnel out of the library toward the dining hall for eleven-AM lunch, Danny Marsh stays back, hidden behind a rack of books, aware this could be the last hour of his life.”
Yes, that’s an opening sentence with a lot of intriguing information and it gives a nice indication of the pace set in this book. There are story threads and plot twists steadily revealed throughout, so I found myself completely engrossed and always intrigued about what could happen next. Essential ingredients for a great thriller.
Set over 24-hours, this story starts as Danny Marsh, Monty Montgomery and Phil Zorn escape from Crick prison, Texas and attempt to get to Mexico and start their new lives. Lead character, Danny, is interesting, as he is a criminal with a conscience and provides a moral backbone to the story. It would be hard to root for out-and-out criminals attempting to swerve justice, so he is a clever character in that he gives the book depth and makes you realise that not all prisoners are necessarily intentionally bad.
Danny is in prison for a crime he didn’t intend to commit, so struggles with not only with day-to-day prison life, but also with his guilt about why he is in prison. He is a good, strong contrast to Phil, who is older, insanely clever, a scientist by trade, mastermind of the men’s prison-break, and an all-round shadier character. Straddled between them is petty criminal Monty, who nicely rounds up the trio of prisoners. Galdi even manages to weave a suggestion of romance into his story, despite the unlikely setting, which, for me, added a little something extra to the tale.
We are also given the point-of-view of the police trying to catch the escaped criminals, and this is the only area I felt was a little lacking. They are following the thread and making progress, then their story is left unfinished, which did leave me with a few questions once I’d reached the last page of the book.
Overall though, this was a fast-paced, easy-to-whizz-through little thriller with just the right level of tension and an ending I wasn’t expecting – a very enjoyable read.